Please Stop It

Anne Hambuda

I get so embarrassed when I see how tribalistic my fellow Aawambo can be.

Like, I’m tired of going on the internet and seeing all these dumb opinions being spouted by people that I am related to. I want to crawl into a hole in the ground and bury myself until we all come to our senses and stop acting like fools.

The sheer audacity of us to have so much hate towards anyone else in Namibia, when we ourselves are riddled with so many issues is something that honestly needs to be studied.

Why don’t we rather spend time going to therapy, healing from the war, finding solutions for gender-based violence and femicide, bridging the technology gap or building strong educational foundations for our children in ways that can benefit the entire populace and propel Namibia forward?

I truly believe our nation will not succeed and we will not get very far if we continue to divide ourselves along arbitrary and pointless lines. We are supposed to get along as a country and have a shared vision and goal for our collective futures. Instead we want to fight each other and bring others down.

The true enemies are poverty and inequality, neo-colonialism, our government’s many failures, entitled foreign settlers, foreign ownership of industries, the drought and many other things, but not each other.

If we continue down this path, one created for us by invaders who sought to divide and conquer, we will be playing right into the hands of the likes of Lothar von Trotha, Otto Bismarck and the main orchestrators of division through the Odendaal Report, which sought to pit Africans against each other

These dudes, by the way, could not tell the difference between us. To them, we were all black. But they knew it was easy to construct imaginary lines of division among us to foil any plans for community and cooperation.

They were hoping we would all be stupid enough to buy into the idea that some of us are better than others or that we are actually even separate groups to begin with. And honestly, they may have been right. I just know Hendrik Verwoerd is smiling up at us right now from hell.

All too often I see idiotic tribalist comments from my people. I’m starting to think many of us actually believe we are some superior group and – again I say – it’s so embarrassing, oh my gosh!

I know we are not alone in this, but I am not in the position to speak on or reprimand other groups. I implore members from other tribes who are critical thinkers and who use their brains to do the same with their own people so we may stamp out this poison and unite into a nation that can actually achieve great things.

Even people whom I would normally deem to be intelligent fall prey to the trap of thinking they are superior for being randomly born into a particular tribe. But if you apply your mind and come to such erroneous conclusions, I do not believe you are utilising your grey matter to the fullest potential.

Genetically, there is barely any difference between people across the globe. White people are not a different species from us, Asians are just as human as us African people. So why would people who share a continent and subregion not be the same as us?

The only things that make us different are skin tones, languages we speak and the regions of the world we are from, which is all a circumstance of chance.

On a cellular level, those differences are so insignificant and pale in comparison with our shared humanity. It’s quite laughable how much separation we try to force between ourselves and people we think are different from us.

If we really are that great, then why do we even need to mention it? Why do we need to exclude others and mock them? Wouldn’t our greatness be obvious and immutable?

If Aawambo are better than other tribes does this mean we subscribe to a ranking system in the first place? If so, where do we fall in the global context? Thinking you are better than other black people is like being happy to be 10th place in a competition because you’re not 11th.

Please get serious.

We are one as Namibians. Embracing this truth is essential to overcoming division and building a truly great nation. Tribalism will not serve us in any way and will just further exacerbate the issues we are already facing and impede our progress.

We must embrace nationalism and see ourselves as Namibians first, with one shared identity and culture.

I personally like to learn from my father. He speaks multiple Namibian languages and he gets along with many people across the country. From the north to the south and east to west, he can adapt and fit in, which I think is a major strength. His ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds underscores the strength of adaptability and inclusivity, and it is a trait I envy greatly.

  • Anne Hambuda is a writer, social commentator and poet. Follow her online or email her for more.

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